India enters Arctic Council with Observer status

India has got observer status in the Arctic Council along with that of five other nations — China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. India has welcomed this step saying it would contribute its scientific expertise, particularly its polar research capabilities, to the work of the Arctic Council to support its objectives.
What is India’s current purpose in the Arctic?

  • Unlike China and South Korea which are gearing up for commercial benefit, India has officially maintained that its purpose is purely scientific.

What else India can try for?
There are opportunities for India for hydrocarbon exploration in the Arctic Circle if India collaborates with any of the five countries getting ready for the purpose — the US, Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark. Among these countries, Russia appears as the most attractive partner. India will have to take a firm political stand on the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge which Russia claims are an extension of its continental shelf. By supporting Moscow’s position, India could get access to the rich deposits and also utilize the North Sea Route.
Why there is rise in interest from various countries in Arctic?

  • The rapid melting of Arctic sea ice that reached new lows last September 2012 has caused nations to show intense interest in the region in terms of navigation and exploration of its rich natural resources.

What are the apprehensions in exploration of natural resources of the Arctic?
Although the melting of ice may help in exploration of natural resources, there are environmental concerns too with the same. At the first Arctic Summit in Oslo in March 2013 organized by The Economist, scientists have warned that exploration of undiscovered natural resources may further degrade the natural environment of the Arctic causing difficulties for the 4.5 million inhabitants of the region. The thinning ice is already making transportation and hunting difficult.
What is Arctic Council?

  • The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic.

It has Eight member nations:

  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Sweden
  • The United States

There are 12 countries with Observer status in Arctic Council. They are:

  1. China
  2. France
  3. Germany
  4. India
  5. Italy
  6. Japan
  7. South Korea
  8. Netherlands
  9. Poland
  10. Singapore
  11. Spain
  12. United Kingdom



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